The Olympic Spirit

For NBC’s coverage of the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, South Korea, the network commissioned Williams to write a new piece of Olympics music, a follow-up to his 1984 Olympic Fanfare and Theme.

The score of the work calls for three flutes (one doubling piccolo), two oboes, English horn, two clarinets, two bassoons, four horns, four trumpets, three trombones, tuba, timpani, percussion, harp, piano and strings.


Williams first recorded his Olympic Spirit with a studio orchestra for use on television, a recording released (along with various songs) on the CD 1988 Summer Olympics Album/One Moment in Time (Arista ARCD-8551).

The composer later recorded the work with the Boston Pops for his 1996 Olympic CD Summon the Heroes (Sony Classical SK 62592, reissued as SK 89434 for the 2000 Games), which erroneously claims to contain the first recording of The Olympic Spirit.

Sheet Music

Hal Leonard has published the full score (HL 04490041) and orchestra parts (HL 04490040) to this work as part of their “John Williams Signature Edition.”